It all started with a joke posted on Reddit. A user shared a cartoon detailing the experience of a male friend who found an unused pregnancy test in his medicine cabinet, took the test for laughs, and surprisingly got two lines.
While the post aimed at soliciting a few laughs, comments advising the user to tell the friend to get tested for testicular cancer soon poured in. Apparently, getting positive results when you are a male is no laughing matter. Here’s why: men with testicular tumors have beta human chorionic gonadotrophin (beta-HCG), the same hormone present in pregnant women and which causes a positive result on a home pregnancy test.
On an update, the poster shared that the friend had visited a doctor and, sure enough, a small tumor was found in his right testicle. It was caught early enough to be treated immediately.
Endocrinologists agree that a home pregnancy test may help detect testicular cancer but it is not always accurate. According to statistics, only a small minority of men with malignant growth in their testicles have hCG levels that are high enough to be detected by a home pregnancy test. Furthermore, several non-cancerous conditions can cause false positive results and, thus, unnecessary anxiety.
Experts suggest that a self-examination is a more accurate way to detect testicular cancer. It is very easy to do: using your hand, feel and check one testicle at a time. Hold the testicle between your thumbs and fingers of both hands and roll it gently between your fingers. Look and feel for any hard lumps or smooth rounded bumps or any change in the size and shape of the testicles. They are your nuts, you should know when something is off. If you notice lumps or any inconsistency in your testicles, see your doctor immediately. Testicle pain or swelling, as well as heaviness or aching in the lower abdomen, are also possible signs of testicular cancer.
If you have it, don’t worry too much. Testicular cancer is one of the most treatable cancers around as long as you seek immediate medical treatment. More than 90% of all newly diagnosed cases of testicular cancer will be cured regardless of disease stage. Treatment of testicular cancer includes surgical removal of the affected testicle or testicles, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.